Circular advertising is a multi-billion dollar business that’s slowly been on the way out as marketers are moving from print to digital. Now Wanderful Media, backed by some of the biggest names in the newspaper publishing business, is hoping it can capture some of that migrating business with a lean-back service for tablets that allows users to find items and deals they weren’t specifically seeking.
The company, which owns bargain-discovery engine Find n Save, has received $22 million in funding from 12 major U.S. media companies including Advance, Gannett, and the Washington Post.
“We want to solve the problem of creating a new audience for the web. Circulars are hugely popular,” Ben T. Smith, IV, Wanderful CEO, told Street Fight last week. “We focus on ‘discover shopping.’ [Readers] don’t know exactly what they want; they are just looking for great local shopping opportunities.”
The goal is to drive in-store sales to local chains like Target and Home Depot: “None of these guys are driven off e-commerce — and they won’t be for a long time,” Smith said. “They are about getting people into the local store.”
Wanderful is working with 250 media partners, a number that will increase to 600 in the near future. It also features a web portal and a mobile experience. The smartphone aspect works differently than the tablet and website. Smith and his team (smartly) don’t anticipate users paging through deals on a mobile phone. Instead, it’s an “execution experience,” where a person can save a deal on his tablet and then have an alert pop up when he enters a store. “When you walk into that store, we know you’re in a store,” Smith said. This will allow Wanderful to encourage people to buy in addition to giving the company the option of pushing other deals on consumers.
Wanderful is an ambitious effort, in large part because of the numerous partners involved. “It’s the largest group of newspaper entities [to invest in something] I believe since the AP,” Smith said. “I had a hard time getting them to agree and a hard to get them to all buy in. That’s where I spent most of my time.”
That said, “they have incredible assets. We can use the personalities that the papers have built. It’s nice to have those backers rather than being a pure startup.”
Here’s how Wanderful looks on the tablet:
On the web:
And the mobile experience:
Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.